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Neighborhood Eats

Ji Suk Yi explores the best restaurants, diners, food trucks and hidden gems in Chicago's neighborhoods and its surrounding suburbs.

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Baker Miller debuts new soufflé-inspired pumpkin pie

The new egg-free recipe, featuring cream steeped with bay leaves, is part of their in-demand holiday lineup of baked goods.

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Born out of frustration, Hexe Coffee Co. aims to please with coffee, edgy desserts

The seeds — or rather beans — for Hexe Coffee were planted because owner Parker Slade was tired of spending more money than he wanted to on hot beverages.

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All the Veterans Day deals, freebies and closings

Veterans Day is on Monday, Nov. 11. If you’re a vet, here’s where you can score great deals and freebies at restaurants — as well as a list of what will be closed.

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Fry the Coop flies high on the fried chicken sandwich craze

Villa Park native Joe Fontana will be opening his fourth Fry the Coop in West Town soon. The restaurants feature Fontana’s take on Nashville fried chicken.

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Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods: A culinary slice of chef’s New Orleans childhood

Ina Mae, at 1415 N. Wood St. in Wicker Park, is the restaurant Chef Jupiter always dreamed of: cooking the Cajun and Creole food of his childhood.

Paneer pinwheel, served at Rooh, is made with red pepper makhani, fenugreek, butter powder, and peperoncino. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times
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Rooh shapes local ingredients into the flavors of faraway India

Eager to expand the definition of the cuisine, ambitious executive chef Sujan Sarkar practices a versatile cooking style he calls "freestyle Indian."

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DMen Tap struts German street food cred

The Avondale bar, at 2849 W. Belmont Ave., is known for its döner kebabs and currywurst.

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Kie-Gol-Lanee aces tamales, Oaxacan cuisine

The Uptown restaurant made the prestigious Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list for 2020.

Tortelli, zucchini, casarecce, and chiusoni pastas served at Tortello.
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Tortello’s handmade pasta a thrill to eat, watch being made

Owner Dario Monni, who grew up eating pasta everyday, flew in experts from Italy to train his employees how to incorporate old world traditional techniques using imported flour from Italy.

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Ji’s Pick: Perilla: Korean American Fare

I do dread when I’m asked what my favorite Korean restaurant is. But if I had to really choose a great place for Korean, I would recommend Perilla: Korean American Fare.

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Friistyle perfects Chicago version of European-style pommes frites

The Bronzeville fast-casual spot — pronounced "free-style," not "fry-style" — is the brainchild of entrepreneur Corey Gilkey, who after traveling to Belgium and the Netherlands realized there were no local restaurants specializing in the hot potato snack.

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Once on the verge of closing, Dunning’s Market continues legacy as one-stop diner and catering hub

Maureen Mader was ready to close the six-decade old Homewood-based business over a year ago, but when she stumbled upon an empty storefront in Flossmoor, she was reinspired. "I love it all over again," she said.

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Smack Dab stirs lip-smacking biscuits, heart-healthy meals with social justice

Twice a month, Smack Dab in Rogers Park hosts community dinners, where all are welcome to eat regardless of their ability to pay.

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Los Takitos Taco Shop combines staple Mexican favorites with Lebanese flavor

Sanaa Yazbek and Alma Hernandez opened their taco shop in northwest suburban Palatine near the close of 2017. Less than two years later the Taco Shop ranks as #62 on Yelp’s 2019 list for must-try restaurants.

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Chicago’s sidewalk space crunch: As cafes gobble up space for pedestrians, more complaints are coming in

‘As more people come and enjoy the neighborhood, it just gets harder,’ says Michele Lee, a West Loop resident and power wheelchair user who often finds she has to thread her way around restaurant tables, chairs jutting into the sidewalk.

Cherry and apple pies made at Happy Apple Pie Shop.
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Happy Apple Pie Shop provides dessert, food for thought

Staff at the bakery, at 226 Harrison St. in Oak Park, includes those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Southern-style sustenance no secret at Matteson’s Hidden Manna Cafe

Patrons flock to sample head Chef Victor Jaimes’ from-scratch menu, heavily based on recipes passed down by the co-owner’s New Orleans-raised grandmother.

Savory Pierogis served at Ewa’s Pierogi in Glenview.
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Ewa’s Pierogi enchants with Eastern European fare

Among other staples, Ewa’s Pierogi carries five flavors of its namesake dish — meat [beef and pork mixture], mushroom, potato and cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese and sauerkraut.

The fried pork sandwich from Vistro restaurant in Hinsdale served with dill garlic mayo, bread and butter pickles and fries.
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Chef Paul Virant showcases the Midwest and beyond

The James Beard Award-nominated chef Paul Virant has an upscale restaurant, Vie, in Western Springs and a more casual spot — Vistro — in Hinsdale. He also plans to open another restaurant in the trendy West Loop soon.

The Linguini Frutti Di Mare, served at Frankie’s Ristorante, is made with long strand pasta, mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and scallops in red sauce.
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Frankie’s Ristorante continues family’s legacy in Italian dining

The Tinley Park restaurant features an array of staples that includes Italian classics and modern fare.

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Rev. Lawrence J. Malcolm, beloved Oak Lawn priest renowned for his baking, has died at 74

‘The heavenly aroma would drift up to the parishioners during mass’ when he whipped up the breads and goodies that people flocked to ‘buy like crazy’ at church fundraisers.

Three of the Market Sides served at Blackberry Market. The honey mustard sweet potato salad (left), California quinoa (right), and broccoli slaw (top).
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Couple’s second Blackberry Market brings elevated fast-casual dining to La Grange

The cinnamon roll has gotten so popular that co-owner Bob Davidson said, "We’ve actually been looking into shipping because we get a lot of out-of-state requests." Bob and Anna Davidson’s original Blackberry Market is in Glen Ellyn.

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Orland Park’s Cacao Cafe serves up Mexican comfort food

Opened since November, Cacao Cafe is chef and owner Linda Aceves’ dream come true. Family recipes are a source of inspiration exemplified in the homemade salsas — chilaquiles, tacos, burritos and tortas. The cafe also has coffee, baked goods and a full coffee bar.

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Glenview’s Forza Meats gaining popularity as a one-stop shop

The all-in-one butcher shop, market and deli uses domestic meat that is pasture-raised, all-natural and antibiotic- and hormone-free.

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Coastal flavors surface in Palos Park at the Original Island Shrimp House

The unassuming seafood joint promises lobster rolls worthy of Maine, peel-and-eat shrimp reminiscent of the South and king crab evoking the Pacific.

The Poached Duck Egg is served with tuna aioli, spring peas, lemon vinaigrette, and Publican Quality Bread at The Heritage restaurant.
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The Heritage Restaurant in Forest Park a celebration of farm-to-table fare

Executive chef Rick Ohlemacher creates a seasonal menu that changes every six to eight weeks.

The ddukbokki lamb ragu served at Passerotto restaurant is made with Korean rice cakes and a lamb neck ragu gravy.
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Passerotto serves as a love letter to Korean culture and appreciation for Italian food

Many of Passerotto’s favorites like the ddukbokki lamb ragu — Korean rice cakes paired with a lamb neck ragu gravy — taste Korean and Italian simultaneously without being exclusively either.

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Hyde Park’s B’Gabs Goodies is a plant-based haven

B’Gabs — a nickname bestowed to Chef/Owner Gabrielle Darvassy by friends — not only caters to the dietary needs of vegans and vegetarians but to those who prefer their meals, strictly raw, soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free or alkaline-based.

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Foodies flocking to Logan Square for Landbirds chicken wings

Word-of-mouth buzz about Landbirds gained momentum quickly through social media even though the restaurant lacked signage and advertising.

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Casa Índígō seeks help keeping Pilsen local — and keeping Starbucks out

The restaurant run by Pilsen residents is looking to expand but is in competition with the world's largest coffee shop.

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Assyrian Kitchen’s classes, meals offer food for thought on ancient civilization

"My personal aspiration is to put Assyrian cooking on the map because there isn’t a place here in the city I could go or take a friend."

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Old Irving Park’s Finom Coffee aces Hungarian food

The coffee and teas are great but don't leave without sampling the Hungarian food at this eclectic spot, at 4200 W. Irving Park Rd.